Nearly all camcorders introduced in the past few years capture high-definition resolution video. That means even low-end, budget camcorders record high-definition video (at either 1280 x 720 pixels or 1920 x 1080 pixels at various frame rates) and look best when viewed on an HDTV, (A few standard-definition models are still on the market, but we haven't tested or recommended them.) There have also been fewer full-size HD-models introduced because more devices, from SLRs to smart phones and tablets, also capture video in HD resolution. However, a new type of higher resolution HD camcorder, which is called a 4K video camcorder, is beginning to appear in the market place. The major distinction between this new type of 4K camcorder and high-definition camcorders is the resolution they capture:
- The resolution for a 4K camcorder is 3840 x 2160 pixels
- The resolution for a high-definition camcorder is 1920 x 1080 pixels or 1280 x 720 pixels
- The resolution for a standard-definition camcorder is 720 x 480 pixels
However, for now, most 4K camcorders are still too expensive for most consumers, which is why your best bet is to buy an HD camcorder.
Almost all HD models can record video in 1080i, the same high resolution as much HDTV programming. Some can even shoot in 1080p, which is the same format used on Blu-ray discs. Only a few models record in 720p, an alternative HD broadcast format. Note that HD recordings take up much more space than standard-def video, so you'll fit less video in a given amount of storage; 720p files are not quite as large as 1080i, though. Some formats that record in HD, such as AVCHD, need HD-capable hardware, such as a Blu-ray disc player, to play back recordings. Also, you'll find action camcorders that can capture HD-resolution video, some even in 1080i, but will compromise the video quality in other ways, such as lower frame rates. Most are still unable to capture 4K, or ultra-high-definition, video.
You can also connect most camcorders directly to an HDTV via an HDMI cord.